Thursday, November 7, 2013

Metal, the Element of Autumn

by Dennis Weigel, L. Ac.

In Chinese medical theory, Yin and Yang explain the relationship of duality, opposing forces interacting to create balance. The Five Elements explain how the forces of nature interact in cycles to generate or inhibit growth and decline.   The five elements are Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire.  Each element has a corresponding season, bodily organ, disease pattern, and emotional tendencies.  The cycle begins in the winter after the winter solstice and corresponds to the element water, then moves to spring and the element wood, then summer and the element fire, then late summer or harvest time which corresponds to earth, then autumn and the element metal.

In nature, Metal revitalizes the earth.  It describes the role of the solid bed of rock deep within the earth which is to provide a deep foundation and to prevent water essential for life from sinking into the earth.  This is why metal is said to “generate” water in the creation cycle of the five elements.

In autumn the trees wither, their leaves and fruits fall to the ground.  They rot, enter the earth and provide nutrients and minerals that nourish and enrich the earth’s capacity to grow new plants.  It is a time of death, downward and inward moving energy, of stillness and reflection on the past year, and receiving inspiration for the next cycle to come.  Many people feel sadness, melancholy, and grief as the days become shorter, and the temperatures drop.  Other common feelings which may be felt more intensely during this time include yearning, disappointment, and regret.  It is important to allow these feelings to flow and to confront them.  If they are suppressed, the qi can get stuck, usually in the chest, and may lead to lung related ailments in the future, and an inability to “let go” and move on.

The Lung and Large Intestine are the internal organs associated with metal.  The lungs receive qi and “inspiration” from the surrounding air, and the Large Intestine eliminates what is no longer needed.  People with Metal constitutions or who live in dry environments such as Colorado, are more prone to lung and colon related ailments such as cough, and constipation.  If the lungs are weak a person may experience shallow breathing resulting in lower energy.  Inspiration is also taken in by the lungs and, depending on their health, can determine one’s vitality and capacity to take things on spiritually.  The Large Intestine absorbs remaining nutrients from food just as the earth receives nutrients from the fallen leaves.  It also eliminates the waste that is no longer needed.  If this function is weakened, built up waste may accumulate in the body and may result in internal pollutants.  This function also applies to the mental level where the large intestine’s role is to decide what to let go of and what to hold on to.  Holding on to emotions that no longer serve us or various attachments can inhibit our ability to move on and form new healthy emotions and connections.

Any of this sound familiar?  It is important to know that it is completely natural to be experiencing any of the above mentioned feelings or conditions this time of year.  To align with the season, try staying home more with a book or nurturing movie, and follow the inward moving energy of autumn.  Reflect on the past year and open to inspiration for new possibilities in the year to come.

Get your 'Qi' on at Left Hand Community Acupuncture
424 E. Simpson St. Lafayette, CO
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